Warren Wilson College celebrates 125 years with Power of Place lecture series

Press release from Warren Wilson College: 

To celebrate its 125th year, Warren Wilson College is launching a new “Power of Place” lecture series through 2019 to highlight the college’s history and vibrant location. The opening lecture this Sunday, November 4, 2018, features Peabody Award-winning broadcaster, Majora Carter.

“The land is central to the theme: Power of Place. For 125 years, we’ve educated generations to lead lives of utility, meaning, service, and beauty – lives that matter.” said Warren Wilson President Lynn M. Morton, Ph.D.

Over the next year, “Power of Place” will define a series of events celebrating Warren Wilson College’s history with a focus on what it means to be located physically, ecologically and culturally within the overlapping communities and territories that make up the college. Events commemorating this milestone will go up on the College’s website throughout the year at warren-wilson.edu/lecture. Carter is the first speaker on Sunday, November 4 at the Warren Wilson College Chapel at 4:00 p.m.

A Peabody Award-winning broadcaster, Carter has redefined urban revitalization strategy, earning both national and international acclaim. Starting in the South Bronx and expanding to under-resourced communities throughout the United States, she has created and implemented numerous green-infrastructure projects, policies, and job training and placement systems. Carter’s long list of awards and honors include a MacArthur Genius Fellowship and accolades from groups as diverse as Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation and John Podesta’s Center for American Progress. Her 2006 TEDtalk was one of the first six to launch that groundbreaking site, and she is known for her intense, energetic delivery.

Warren Wilson College has had many iterations and predecessor schools over its history – the Asheville Farm School, Dorland Bell and Warren Wilson Junior College, to name a few. No matter the name of the institution, the Swannanoa Valley of Western North Carolina has always been home to a school for students willing to work to support their education and committed to connecting with their surrounding community. As 2019 approaches, the college begins to commemorate its 125-year milestone through a Power of Place Lecture Series to launch the year-long celebration.

The history of Warren Wilson College began with an urgent need, which was addressed by the dedicated women of the Presbyterian Church. At the close of the nineteenth century, the members of the Women’s Board of Home Missions of the Presbyterian Church were concerned that many Americans in isolated areas were not receiving an education. The women decided to establish church-supported schools in areas where there were no public services. In many cases, the young people who came to these mission schools had no prior formal education. The Women’s Board of Home Missions purchased property in the Swannanoa Valley near Asheville in 1893.

In 1894, the Asheville Farm School officially opened with 25 boys attending and a professional staff of three people. In 1942, the junior college division was established. The Dorland-Bell School of Hot Springs joined with the Farm School, which brought high-school-age girls to campus. After World War II, the public education system in North Carolina improved dramatically, and the need for the mission’s high school diminished. The last high school class graduated in 1957, and the school remained a junior college until March 1966 when the four-year Warren Wilson College was established, offering six majors. In 1972, the National Board of Missions deeded the college property over to the college’s Board of Trustees.

Since the 1970s, Warren Wilson College has grown and changed into the contemporary higher education institution that it is today. The college remains dedicated to a curriculum of “learning by doing,” which informs commitments to community engagement, the work program, and an emphasis on original student research.

Following Carter on November 4, upcoming quasquicentennial events will include a land conservation lecture by Jay Erskine Leutze on February 17, 2019 and a literary lecture by J. Drew Lanham on April 7, 2019. Leutze is the author of Stand Up that Mountain: The Battle to Save One Small Community in the Wilderness Along the Appalachian Trail. Lanham is a birder, naturalist, and author of The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature.

Warren Wilson College is a vibrant, independent college with an innovative curriculum that purposefully integrates the liberal arts with community engagement and work experiences to prepare students for not only professional success, but also a life of meaning. Visit www.warren-wilson.edu.

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